red Supported Site Cal Poly Pomona: Early Teaching Experience

Successes

  • The LA seminar, Physics Teaching Pedagogy course (PHY 200), was offered every quarter in 2012-2013 AY (6- 9 enrollments) and in Fall 2013 (11 enrollments)
    • All LAs were enrolled and PhysTEC PIs and the Faculty Advisory Panel attended most classes.
    • The course included outside speakers and incorporated many of the Colorado LA program activities and videos to help physics students at CPP integrate the pedagogy they learned to the teaching.
    • The end-of-course evaluations indicated that LAs felt the course was useful to the prospective physics teachers and for their LA duties.
  • Physics tutoring room has been revitalized:
  • Physics Tutor room:
    • Before the PhysTEC grant, no physics majors were available as tutors in the department. Since Fall 2012, physics LAs have tutored for two hours a week each, summing to over 420 hours of tutoring for our students in the introductory general physics courses (120 hours in Fall 2012, 160 in Winter 2013, and 140 in Spring 2013.) This room has been very active and popular with our physics majors and engineering students in our introductory courses. A specific room (Building 3-room 2011) is designated for physics tutoring.
    • A weekly tutoring schedule is prepared quarterly and shared with faculty and students. Physics LAs each hold two hour weekly office hours/ tutoring during their quarterly assignments Physics LAs continue to offer free tutoring and help sessions for our students in the introductory general physics courses. During 2013-14 AY (second year), physics LAs tutored for two hours a week each, offering a total of over 540 hours of tutoring (180 hours in Fall 2013, 120 hours in Winter 2014, and 240 hours in Spring 2014.)
  • Over last two years, eight physics alumni have been hired to teach CPP lower division introductory physics laboratory courses.
    • This has provided us additional recruiting opportunities.
    • Some of them have served as LAs as undergraduates.
    • The department has been receiving positive feedback from students about instructors with LA experiences. One of these instructors has received very favorable (nearly perfect) student evaluation scores.

Challenges

  • Recruiting LAs with strong commitment towards teaching high school is a challenge.
  • Scheduling LAs into several sections of different courses three times a year (every quarter) is a very time demanding task for the PI.
  • For successfully tutoring a range of introductory courses, LAs need to have a broad knowledge of physics and a strong math background.
  • The physics single subject credential pathway at CPP remains to be very daunting.

Sustainability

  • The Physics & Astronomy Department and College of Science recognize the affordability and value of LAs' work. The PhysTEC team, including the department chair, is actively exploring potential long-term funding sources.
  • We will continue offering an LA seminar course for LAs at least once a year.
  • The course is well attended and recognized by faculty and students.
  • New faculty members are a great support for the PhysTEC program and provide many early teaching opportunities for the LAs. They utilize LAs in their courses more often, give LAs bigger responsibilities (demo, writing sample exam question, etc.) in the course, and mentor them in variety of settings.

Lessons Learned

  • A regular weekly meeting with content faculty should be maintained.
  • We have to find opportunities to strengthen our LAs' content knowledge.
  • Our strongest physics students love being LA and the experience, but more often think about becoming university professors instead of high school teachers.

Activities

  • The LAs led group work, class discussion, and homework help sessions, and assisted with lecture demonstrations.
  • All LAs tutor for 2 hours a week in the physics tutor room.
  • LAs and the SPS led outreach events at a local school on May 9th and 16th 2013, where they designed and delivered lesson plans and activities on Force and Motion for second graders at Collegewood elementary school in Walnut Unified School District (WUSD).
  • LAs worked with future K-8 teachers in the SCI 210 course and assisted them in preparing rubrics for judging a science fair at local middle school. LAs along with the SCI 210 students were invited to help judge the Harrison Science Fair at Pomona Unified School District (PUSD) on May 14, 2013.
  • On October 18, 2013, LAs helped students in SCI 210 course (physical science course for future K-8 teachers) to host an outreach event for sixth grade students who were visiting Cal Poly Pomona from Los Angeles Unified School District. In this event, LAs and SCI 210 students collaboratively engaged kids in several interactive science demos and activities.
  • LA Seminars had a few joint meetings with Noyce Scholars who are currently in the credential program or performing their clinical practice during 2013-14 AY, which was the last year of CPP Noyce scholar ship grant.
  • LAs worked along with Noyce Scholars and science faculty to host 100 seventh graders from Cortez elementary school (PUSD) for an outreach event at Cal Poly Pomona on April 5, 2013. We divided the students up into four groups of 24 and had them rotate through one life science, one physical science, and two math labs. Activities included mini science lessons at the middle school level and games and fun demos, followed by a campus tour. Physics LAs and Noyce Scholars led the physical science session.